Finding the Courage to Leave the Race: Leading Without the BS

I told myself that I would walk away when they told me the stress of my job had caused a stroke. While I lay there listening to baby faced doctors investigate surgical options for removing blockages from my brain, I swore that I would stop participating in processes that required me to compromise who I am and what I need. Period. While I have always been a fighter, I learned early that every battle worth fighting has its price, but for some battles, the price outweighed the spoils.

Working in a space that didn’t leave space for me was one of these battles, where the price far outweighed the spoils. While the peace of mind that came with a regular paycheck felt good, I’d learned long ago that no job working for someone else was ever secure. I also recognized, daily, the emotional toll this workplace had on me. I expected the long hours, but forced metered speech (ie no natural language), the deliberate dimming of my great to assuage fragile egos (ie dumbing down my speech to make my non-othered superior sound more intelligent), late-night harassing phone calls, probing personal questions or inappropriate comments on my age or identity, and others repeatedly taking credit for my work all began to take a toll on my spirit.

After months of depression, repeated anxiety attacks, and now this, I dug up the courage to leave. Still, none of this comes without a gut full of honesty in spite of what circumstance may be pressuring you to do.  I say all of this to say, have the courage to do the work, to listen to the whisper, and once you hear it, know that you can’t lead with the bull. Do the work to identify your needs, our freedoms and your best methods of storytelling.

Have the courage to listen to the whisper. Sometimes your fit feelings call in the form of a whisper. I believe these stirrings are the guidance of ancestors, wisdom sent to shape our journeys and directions.

And after you’ve dug deep and done the work, listened to the whisper, don’t lead with the bull.

As a reflection to her own process of rebellion to operating in a system that wasn’t built for or conducive to her truth, Viola Davis bravely spoke up. She spoke on her stirring need to thrive despite a powerful push to diminish and called on a public push to thrive as well. Take a look at her speech here. As a brown woman, Viola stood, using her platform to encourage others to lead authentically, by their own standards.

For me, all of this means having the courage to walk away from the system and enter a new space where I can speak freely, dream big, and move towards an unbound living where my work is not limited by my geography, and my geography does not limit my impact. And while financial fluency is an ongoing journey, the inner peace that comes with rebellion rings daily as my meditation bell.

I encourage you to embrace the grit of rebellion. Rebellion and grit— braveness and perseverance— is inherent in part of the othered identity. It’s part of who we are, the stuff that makes our blood flow. Know that you are the fire in your veins, the grit in your gut and the stuff that gives this world truth is just the beginning of the part of doing. Rebel enough to direct your own path— to seize what is yours and to choose your life’s work, your speech, your activities, your direction, and to define your own retirement. If you need to redirect your career, have the grit to do so, and do so on your terms, shaping exactly what you want to do in the way you want to do it (through embracing your passions in entrepreneurship or finding a solution that allows you to live in freedom). Take the steps to make your rebellion your reality.

What’s your idea of greatness? What your rebellion and how can you see yourself making it your reality?

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Thicker Grits

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